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Sarah Underwood papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0694

Scope and Content

This collection (1855-1885, undated) contains correspondence, poetry, song verses, a photograph, genealogy and family history on the Tefft and Underwood families, and samples of mourning cloth.

Many of the handwritten letters are from Sarah Tefft Underwood to her family in Kingston, Rhode Island. Her two primary correspondents were her two sisters, Mae and Ann Tefft, though the letters also include notes to her father and other family members. When writing to her sisters, Sarah often signed as "Sally." In the letters, Sarah asked about the family in Rhode Island, talked about the people she had met in Iowa, and almost always included a report on the weather in Iowa. She often wrote about activities on the farm including meals, farm work during harvest time, and butchering the animals. She also described some of the buildings in the community such as the school house and the grain mill and even commented on barge activity on the Mississippi River. In addition, the collection has two notes containing song verses, one of the notes is signed "Ma Frank." There is also a photograph of an unidentified woman.

The collection was originally purchased, and later a donor donated additional letters. These letters often had post-it notes concerning the contents of the letters. The post-it notes have been photocopied and kept with the letters.


  • Creation: 1856-1885, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Sarah (called Sally) Tefft was born to John Tefft and Sarah Hazard Holley Tefft on April 12, 1829 in Kingston, Rhode Island. Sarah Tefft married Horace Underwood on November 30, 1851 in Kingston, Rhode Island. Horace and Sarah Tefft Underwood moved to eastern Iowa most likely during the fall of 1856. They lived approximately two miles outside of the community of Princeton, Iowa, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River just north of Davenport in Scott County. Sarah named the homestead Slippery Elm Grove, and family lore says that their home was the first brick house in Iowa. Sarah cared for the house while her husband farmed. Sarah and Horace had one child, daughter Mary Lillian born in Princeton, Iowa on October 11, 1859. The Underwoods left Iowa and moved back Kingston, Rhode Island at some point between 1861 and 1864.

Sarah Underwood died November 26, 1883.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 half-document box)


The collection is organized Chronologically.


Digital reproductions of a selection of materials from the Sarah Underwood papers are available electronically. Please see the Electronic Resources section for a link.

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0694. Sarah Underwood papers, 1856-1885, undated
May 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672